Becoming a parent fills many with dread. The grip our children have over our emotions cannot fully be described. Despite this, many see their entire world shift beneath their feet. Yet, some parents sacrifice in ways that no parent would wish on their worst enemies. Throughout For Night Will Come, a mother tries to reckon with the violence her son could inflict on the world while her son tries to find normalcy. The dichotomy becomes an interesting exercise in co-opting a horror creature to tell its story. Director Céline Rouzet utilizes gorgeous cinematography to her advantage, but the story gets too dragged down by teen drama.

For Night Will Come

Laurence Feral (Élodie Bouchez) gives birth to an unusual baby – it drinks blood. Scared by those who may wish to study her child, she goes on the run with her husband, Georges Feral (Jean-Charles Clichet). After seventeen years, Philémon Feral (Mathias Legoût Hammond) approaches adulthood. The family remains in hiding despite their second child, Lucie (Laly Mercier), having none of her brother’s urges. While at a cookout, Philémon meets Camila (Céleste Brunnquell). The two hit it off quickly, beginning a torrid affair driven by Philémon’s odd obsessions. However, their feelings for one another may upend the town.

Rouzet builds her version of love-struck teens with all the heightened emotions that age creates. At times, one can easily see For Night Will Come as a contemporary, grounded Edward Scissorhands. While the town jocks hate Philémon and believe he’s a danger because of his odd actions, they will use him to their advantage. However, when Philémon’s use is overshadowed by his feelings, the town rebels against him. It’s a classic story that draws parallels throughout film and television.

For Night Will Come

Sadly, the prevalence of similar stories drags For Night Will Come down. Most of the cast plays beats straight out of other successful films. At one point, Rouzet nods to Twilight as the characters run through the woods. That ends up being one of the clever references but forces the audience to compare its actors to those leads. The chemistry between Hammond and Brunnquell rarely feels firey enough outside of a single sequence inside a car. Outside of that moment, the relationship is almost entirely defined by Hammond’s longing gaze. While For Night Will Come tells us that this relationship is worth destroying the life the Ferals have known, the story does not show us why this couple is so important to the story.

The true standout of For Night Will Come relies on the performance from Bouchez. Her anguish, pain, and willingness to believe her child feel so natural. Her love is genuine, even as she faces the darkest truths about her family. Bouchez’s physical transformation and exhaustion are visible in every frame. She never plays coy about her priorities. She’s even willing to risk her career to help her son.

While there are few moments of horror within For Night Will Come, that exhaustion becomes the driving force of the story. The fear of discovery and worry about being discovered as something “other” than human become the family’s primary motivators. At one point, Clichet asks if everything the parents have done to provide a life for Hammond has been worth it. However, these moments ring false. For Night Will Come lays on the “other” narrative too heavily, making it astoundingly un-subtle. Additionally, naming the family “the Ferals” keys us into the animal nature that Hammond delivers in larger spurts as the story evolves. Again, the obvious goal of these scenes blunts their effectiveness.

For Night Will Come

Unfortunately, the other characters feel too underdeveloped to make much of an impact. Clichet does not do anything wrong, but he’s also hardly memorable. Mercier and Brunnquell get frustratingly thin stories despite their importance to the narrative. While the idea to focus the emotional heft of For Night Will Come on a mother-son relationship, the other characters still require some moments of agency. It’s not in “manic pixie dreamgirl” territory, but it is shockingly close.

With an excellent performance headling the feature, For Night Will Come could almost be mistaken for a profound adaptation of the vampire story. Sadly, it cannot live up to lofty claims. The story drags, and the rest of the cast gets little to do. While For Night Will Come is close to being a very good movie, it feels too derivative to step into its own shoes.

Alan’s Rating: 5/10

What do you think of For the Night Will Come? Let us know in the comments below! For the Night Will Come played at the 2023 Venice Film Festival.

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